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Afraid to Die



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Mon Dec 01, 2008 11:15 pm
WaterVyper says...



I’ve never been so afraid in my life. Huddled up in the corner, I feel the cold stone pressing against my back. I shiver as a particularly cold draft blows through the dungeon. The torches are going out and the flickering light is making it hard to see. My eyes hurt. Sighing, I slump down, trying my very best to ignore the throbbing pain from the lashes I’d gotten yesterday. The blood is dry and it sometimes falls off in flakes.

The squeaks of the rats dominate the place; it is never truly silent here. The wails of the young ones, the scurrying feet of vermin, the labored breathing of the elderly. The rattle of chains, dripping of water, it sometimes drives me insane. I wish I was. It wouldn't be so painful otherwise. I doubt my old bones can take it much longer. Youth or otherwise, it matters not. Here, everyone is equal. Everyone is trapped.

It disgusts me when I look across my cell at the others. I can see them rotting away, the life fading from their eyes. Some have given up completely, and are just waiting to be put out of their misery. The newer ones always struggle, and I have to keep the bile down when I see them after they return from torturing sessions. The new prisoners always have it worse.

It is then that the torch in my cell completely flickers out. I’m left alone in the darkness, and I can imagine my eyes glowing in the dark. What color are my eyes again? I can’t remember. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to actually look at myself. I can’t even see my reflection in a puddle of water, with all the grime and sludge. I suppress a grimace as I remember the time that I tried to drink it, out of desperation. The guard is watching me, a scroll in hand.

“You all!” he shouts. “You are to be hanged tomorrow, at dawn." I close my eyes and try to not panic at the thought of my impending death. I fail. I start to breathe faster and I can hear my heart beating in my chest. It's usually such a comforting sound, since it tells me I am alive. But now, it just counts down the seconds until I finally leave this world. One two three four five sixseveneightnineten...

Sweat is pouring down my entire body and I begin to shake. The door swings open, though I barely take notice. The light, which I used to welcome, is of no importance now. I just need to keep counting, and I'll be safe. The rough stone further shreds my back to pieces, and blood flows anew. I pay no heed to this. Just count, just count. Twenty-threetwenty-fourtwenty-five.

A guard, a different one this time, stands over me, a look of disgust on his face. I don’t care and continue to panic. He scowls and kicks my side. As soon as his boot connects with my body, I feel an agonizing, burning sensation. I yelp out in both surprise and pain, all thoughts of fear completely disappearing. He smirks in satisfaction and drags me out of the cell. I do not protest. I’m about to die anyway so what’s the use?

I cannot remember how long it took him to finally throw me into the holding area, along with almost a dozen others. I can feel some old wounds opening up again as my body is dumped onto the rough stone floor. I can hear the quiet sobs of the younger ones and the calm breathing of the older prisoners. I do not care.

I do not know how long I’ve been in here. It is quiet now, deadly silent. The only sound I can hear is my own breathing. Nobody speaks. Finally, a young girl comes to me and tugs gently on my arm. I feel a tiny jolt of pain shoot up my arm but pay no heed to it this time. Instead, I turn to her with a questioning look on my face.

She can’t be much older than six. She is tiny, and quite cute, actually. Her hair is matted with blood and dirt, though I think it is brown. Her eyes are wide and innocent, even after being captured here. I can see the tears in her eyes, which are still rimmed with red. “I’m scared to die,” she whispers to me.

I cannot stop a smile from appearing on my face. This smile contains no joy, no mirth; only bitterness, regret, and resignation. I can see that she shies away from me, perhaps out of fear, but still longs to stay close. In a scratchy, hoarse voice, I reply.

“Me too.”
Last edited by WaterVyper on Sun Jan 04, 2009 2:54 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Tue Dec 02, 2008 12:23 am
PandyBear528 says...



I think this is a good story! You really, are keeping it a mystery. One thing is i dont know if this is a boy or girl...that kind of confused me. Then there is:

*She is tiny, petite, and quite cute, now that I think about it.
~I would put something like...'She is tiny, petite, and grungy. The more i looked at her face, the more i realized her cute features.'

Other then that, I don't think i see big problems, maybe describe the way the gaurd looks. Maybe he is dressed nicer then the character, or maybe turn out to be his father! That would be a nice twist. But then again, its not my story.

Good job anyway, PM me when another part is up, please!
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Tue Dec 02, 2008 12:41 am
jMin says...



Hey WaterVyper, welcome to YMS. I see that this is your first work here, and I have to admit, it's pretty good. Here are some technical mistakes that I corrected:

WaterVyper wrote:The blood is dry and it sometimes falls off in flakes.

It disgusts me when I look across my cell at the others. I can see them (You repeated "others") rotting away, the life quickly fading from their eyes. Some have given up completely, and are just waiting to be put out of their misery.

I’m about to die anyway so what’s the use?

I cannot remember how long it took him to finally throw me into the holding area, along with almost a dozen others.


The one criticism that I have is that it doesn't frighten the reader. It's descriptive in a very blatant way. When I think of a dungeon, I think of a pitch black place where you can barely see anything. If you want to really go crazy revising this story, I suggest trying to focus more on imagery other than visual. What does the place smell like? How does it sound? Is it deathly quiet or loud with weeping? Does time pass slowly or quickly? You can also further develop the main character. Is he going crazy from loneliness, abuse, and the fear of eventual doom? Make it confusing, obscure, mysterious, frightening. Don't simply tell the reader that the characters are afraid to die, make us fear death.

This is elite writing that I'm proposing. I can't even write like that, but if I were you that's how I'd envision this.

Hoped that helped. Good luck!
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Sat Jan 03, 2009 11:28 pm
Mars says...



In return for this critique, I want the blood of your first-born son. Haha, no, don't give me anything but a good read.:)
So, let's jump right into the critiquing, shall we? This piece is obviously quite polished, we'll see if I can find anything wrong with it. And remember, if I seem harsh it's because I want this piece to be the best it can be.

Grammar and Wording

The squeaks of the rats dominate the place; it is never truly silent here. The wails of the young ones, the scurrying feet of the rats, the labored breathing of the elderly.

Good description. However, using the rats as an example twice is repetitive, so try 'the scurrying feet of the vermin' or something.

I with I am.

You mean wish right? Even so, 'I wish I am insane' doesn't sound quite correct, verb-conjugation wise and all that. I believe it should be 'I wish I was insane,' even though 'was' is past tense, because at some point the nearrator would have had to become insane, which is in the past. Does that make sense?

If you were to write 'I wish I had been' then your whole story would have to be in the past (which, of course, it's not).

the life quickly fading from their eyes.

'Fading' and 'quickly' are not words usually associated with each other. If something is fading, then it is gradually disappearing...not quickly. Especially in this case, since the life is being drained out of the prisoners over a matter of months (or years; I'm not sure how new "new" prisoners are considered to be).

I can just imagine my eyes glowing in the dark.

Just is one of those words that doesn't add anything to your sentence. I can imagine my eyes... Does your image lose anything there? No! in fact, omitting the word might even make it stronger.

I suppress a grimace as I remember the time that I’ve tried to drink it, out of desperation.

This should either be the time I tried to drink it, if it was only one time, or the times I've tried to drink it if he tried to drink that more than once.

“You all!” he shouts. “You are to be hanged tomorrow, at dawn,” he announces

It's a little strange that the man goes from shouting to announcing with nothing in between. I suggest either making it "You all! You are to be hanged... with nothing in between. Or, tell us why he switched tones. "You all!" he shouts, and we fall silent. "You are..." he announces.

The guard is watching me, a scroll in hand. he announces, reading from the scroll in hand

Careful! Repetition gets tiring. We already know what he's reading, and where it is, so you can replace the scroll in hand with just the scroll or even a pronoun, it.

She is tiny, petite, and quite cute, now that I think about it.

Tiny and petite mean the same thing, so you can take one of them out.
Also, the now that I think about it part struck me. Why is he thinking about her cuteness when he's about to die. The other problem with that line is that saying, NOW I'm thinking about it implies that the story is in past tense, something that your narrator is recalling...which he's not.

This smile contains no joy, no mirth. Only bitterness, regret, and resignation.

I suggest making this into one sentence. This smile contains no joy, no mirth; only bitterness, regret, and resignation. Less short sentences = less choppiness.

Atmosphere/Descriptions/Setting
(You asked for it! :D)
Honestly? I don't think you need much help on this. Your descriptions are done very well and integrated well, too. If you do want to know more, though, Kitty15 wrote a very helpful article on descriptions.
Obviously, your dungeon story needs a sad, despairing atmosphere, which is as much voice as description. I think you did a good job there: all the descriptions, the noise, the stone, the flickering lights, they all contribute to the atmosphere. As does your narrator's voice...

Voice
Your narrator's voice makes him sound very numb. Like, he's been imprisoned for eons, and all the sadness and anger wore off years ago, and now all that's left is bitterness. And until the very end, it also seems like he has accepted his fate. The preceding is not a mistake or a suggestion :) I just wanted you to know how I perceived your narrator, in case you were going for something else. I think the voice works.

History
The main criticism I have about this piece is that I want to know more! Why is he in jail? How long has it been? Did he leave behind a family? Does he actually get hanged, or is there some kind of excellent escape? The guy could have killed a thousand babies, which would drastically change my feelings about him, or stolen an apple to feed his dying nephew. I suggest (and this is just me being selfish) doing a prequel. Or it could be like a series of flashbacks. And I think that would be really good...I'd read it. ;-)

Overall
Writing-wise, this piece was great, although there were inevitably those little details (see my comments above). I really do think a prequel would be nice, but this also works as a standalone piece, so it's all up to you. PM me if you need more elaboration or another review or whatever.
Keep up the writing!
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Sat Jan 10, 2009 1:15 am
Phantomofthebasket says...



I really liked this.
I liked at how vague you were to WHY he was in jail, yet I loved the descriptions you gave.
I really like the ending, it was cute. I liked how, even though you were describing him of being afraid without really saying it outright (except in the first sentence), I liked how you made him admit it. =D
Good job. =D
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Sat Jan 10, 2009 3:03 pm
Lauren says...



Greetings, fellow YWSer :wink:

What I usually do is pick up on things as I read through and note them down, then do a little summary at the end. Here goes...

I’ve never been so afraid in my life. This was fine and you needn't change it if you like -- however, I was thinking that the wording might have been a bit more effective. For an opening it wasn't very enticing to read. Huddled up in the corner, I feel the cold stone pressing against my back. I shiver as a particularly cold draft blows through the dungeondungeon? I'm taking it that this is set in the olden days?. The torches are going out and the flickering light is making it hard to see. My eyes hurt. Sighing, I slump down, trying my very best to ignore the throbbing pain from the lashes I’d gotten yesterday. The blood is dry and it sometimes falls off in flakes. Considering it is in the present-tense and the MC is experiencing this now, it could be a lot choppier and fretful. I seems very tame.


The squeaks of the rats dominate the place[s];[/s] and it is never truly silent here. The wails of the young ones, the scurrying feet of vermin, the labored breathing of the elderly elderly rats? Fine, but seems a bit of a strange thing to say. Most people wouldn't differentiate like that. The rattle of chains, dripping of water, it sometimes drives me insane. I wish I was. It wouldn't be so painful otherwise. I doubt my old bones can take it much longer. Youth or otherwise, it matters not. Here, everyone is equal. Everyone is trapped.


It disgusts me when I look across my cell at the others. I can see them rotting away, the life fading from their eyes. Nice imagery, if a little cliched. But what isn't, these days? Some have given up completely, and are just waiting to be put out of their misery. The newer ones always struggle, and I have to keep the bile down when I see them after they return from torturing sessions. The new prisoners always have it worse why?.


It is then that the torch in my cell completely flickers out. Before it sounded like it is being written in a diary or a letter. Now it sounds like a narration. I’m left alone in the darkness, and I can imagine my eyes glowing in the dark. What color are my eyes again? I can’t remember. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to actually look at myself. I can’t even see my reflection in a puddle of water, with all the grime and sludge. I suppress a grimace as I remember the time that I tried to drink it, out of desperation. The guard is watching me, a scroll in hand.


“You all!” he shouts. “You are to be hanged tomorrow, at dawn." I close my eyes and try to not panic at the thought of my impending death. I fail. I'm sorry but this seems a bit dry. It's the present so emotions should be their most sharp, poignant I start to breathe faster and I can hear my heart beating in my chest. It's usually such a comforting sound, since it tells me I am alive. But now, it just counts down the seconds until I finally leave this world. One two three four five sixseveneightnineten... Seriously? She'll be counting awhile then!


Sweat is pouring down my entire body and I begin to shake. The door swings open, though I barely take notice. The light, which I used to welcome, is of no importance now. I just need to keep counting, and I'll be safe. The rough stone further shreds my back to pieces, and blood flows anew. I pay no heed to this. Just count, just count. Twenty-threetwenty-fourtwenty-five.


A guard, a different one this time, stands over me, a look of disgust on his face. I don’t care and continue to panic. He scowls and kicks my side. As soon as his boot connects with my body, I feel an agonizing, burning sensation. I yelp out in both surprise and pain, all thoughts of fear completely disappearing. He smirks in satisfaction and drags me out of the cell. I do not protest. I’m about to die anyway so what’s the use? What? It's that time already? How come she's only counted twenty-five seconds, then? You really need to clarify here.


I cannot remember how long it took him to finally throw me into the holding area, along with almost a dozen others. I can feel some old wounds opening up again as my body is dumped onto the rough stone floor. I can hear the quiet sobs of the younger ones and the calm breathing of the older prisoners. I do not care. You speak of the incident in past tense now. Then present again. If it has been some time then you need to make that clear.


I do not know how long I’ve been in here. It is quiet now, deadly silent. The only sound I can hear is my own breathing. Nobody speaks. Finally, a young girl comes to me and tugs gently on my arm. I feel a tiny jolt of pain shoot up my arm but pay no heed to it this time. Instead, I turn to her with a questioning look on my face.


She can’t be much older than six. She is tiny, and quite cute, actually. Her hair is matted with blood and dirt, though I think it is brown. Her eyes are wide and innocent, even after being captured here. I can see the tears in her eyes, which are still rimmed with red. “I’m scared to die,” she whispers to me.


I cannot stop a smile from appearing on my face. This smile contains no joy, no mirth; only bitterness, regret, and resignation. I can see that she shies away from me, perhaps out of fear, but still longs to stay close. In a scratchy, hoarse voice, I reply.


“Me too.”


Thing is about this, the concept's nice, as are some parts of your writing, but it's so very muddled and confusing. I feel the core of the matter is that you aren't comfortable enough writing in the present tense---it comes across wobbly and unconvincing. I felt parts of it suffered on the reality front, as well. Feeling could have been portrayed poignantly and subtly but instead dramatic phrases were thrown about unconvincingly.
This has much potential to it but you might consider a rewrite. Personally I think it would come across much better is past tense, sort of like a diary entry in format, and you should try to be the character inside to write more convincingly.

Much luck, and thanks for the read.

Lauren 8)
  





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Sat Jan 10, 2009 8:10 pm
JFW1415 says...



My main complaint is that I don't buy it. I want to feel what he feels. But I'm not afraid, I'm not in pain, I'm not hungry, I don't feel for this girl. It's hard to make me feel for a character – of course it is; they're fictional! But the best books I've ever read made me cry, made me want to yell at the characters to save themselves. But that didn't happen here, even though you already have such a heart-wrenching story. So you're only a step away from making me cry.

Focus more on details, but don't say it – make me feel it. Explain his pain, the hunger, the feeling of rats at his feet.

Also, focus way more on his mind. Think of what this dungeon must have done to him – stress that. Show his craziness. Show what he gets annoyed at irrationally – people crying? – and what doesn't even move him anymore. Think about it – how would you act if you'd been there for years? His spirit's already broken – so is his brain. You show a very controlled mind with the counting – try to make it crazy, helpless.

And remember that there's more than just him. The other characters don't just sit there until you're ready to mention them – show that! They're always there, so try to keep a constant feel for them. Is he alone in the cell? Do the bodies press against him at the end? What?

You have a good scene, and at the moment I'm waiting for more – it didn't seem to really end. Nothing changed. A story has a plot – characters get over problems. That can happen even in the face of death. Work on that. Does he comfort the girl?

Oh, did you ever see Pirates of the Caribbean? I forget which one it is, but one starts with a hanging. This one little boy starts singing, and everyone joins in. Even though he dies, it's still so moving, and feels complete. Try something to give it that complete feel.

PM me for anything!

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Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:26 am
*DaughteroftheMoon* says...



I had a few nickpicky line that I thought could have been worded better. Here they are:

The blood is dry and it sometimes falls off in flakes.

It could be worded: The dry blood sometimes falls off in flakes.

The guard is watching me, a scroll in hand.

Could you show us this? There is alot of telling in the story and could be made better with some showing instead.

Characters:
I think that you should humanize your characters more. Add some more emotion and human like qualities to them. They all seem so robotic. Make us feel sorry for the little girl, for the prisoner who is about to die. I want to feel what they feel. I was already a bit moved, but with some emotion, you could do better.

Repition:
You repeat yourself several times, or should I say several words in a short span of time. I saw that you said that the prisoner paid no heed when he was lead out of the cell, and when the girl tugged on their arm. I would suggest that you use a variety of diction.

Overall:
I love the story line and you have me sitting on the edge of my seat. I have so many questions, and would definately read more if you posted it. What where they put in there for? Are they going to escape? What happens next? You do a very good job in this department. Please, let me know if you get more out, I would definately review it for you. Fantastic job, abd keep up the good work!


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Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:05 am
Carlito says...



Promised review #3:

WaterVyper wrote:I’ve never been so afraid in my life. ((Good opening line, it makes you want to read at least to the end of the paragraph :)))Huddled up in the corner, I feel the cold stone pressing against my back. I shiver as a particularly cold draft blows through the dungeon. The torches are going out and the flickering light is making it hard to see. My eyes hurt. Sighing, I slump down, trying my very best to ignore the throbbing pain from the lashes I’d gotten yesterday. ((what?))The blood is dry and it sometimes falls off in flakes. ((blood falls off from where?))


WaterVyper wrote:The squeaks of the rats ((the rat's squeaks)) dominate the place; ((what place? where are you? describe it.)) it is never truly silent here. The wails of the young ones, the scurrying feet of vermin, the labored breathing of the elderly. The rattle of chains, dripping of water, it sometimes drives me insane. ((sometimes? when doesn't it? when else are you in this situation?)) I wish I was ((insane?)). It wouldn't be so painful otherwise. I doubt my old bones can take it much longer. Youth or otherwise, it matters not. Here, everyone is equal. Everyone is trapped.


WaterVyper wrote:“You all!” ((this sounds awkward to me, maybe try a different expression)) he shouts. “You are to be hanged tomorrow, at dawn." I close my eyes and try to not panic at the thought of my impending death. I fail. I start to breathe faster and I can hear my heart beating in my chest. It's usually such a comforting sound, since it tells me I am alive. But now, it just counts down the seconds until I finally leave this world. One two three four five sixseveneightnineten...

Wouldn't they be happy they will finally be out of their misery?
What did they do? Why are they there?

WaterVyper wrote:She can’t be much older than six. She is tiny, and quite cute, actually. Her hair is matted with blood and dirt, though I think it is brown. Her eyes are wide and innocent, even after being captured here. I can see the tears in her eyes, which are still rimmed with red. “I’m scared to die,” she whispers to me.

I cannot stop a smile from appearing on my face. This smile contains no joy, no mirth; only bitterness, regret, and resignation. I can see that she shies away from me, perhaps out of fear, but still longs to stay close. In a scratchy, hoarse voice, I reply.

“Me too.”

This has the potential of being really heart-wrenching sad, but I just don't feel it.
1. I don't know the characters well enough. I don't know them at all. I don't know their relationships with one another, I don't know what their names are. I don't know anything.
2. I don't know why their there or what they did. Are they there for a just reason or because they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time?
3. How long have they been where they are? Do they have any family? Friends? What kind of stuff has happened to them?
Answering those kinds of questions would make it a lot stronger of a story. It would make the ending a lot more sad, cause it already has the potential to do that.

I think you write very well, and I've enjoyed reviewing your stuff.
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Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:21 am
mikepyro says...



This wasn't bad. I really didn't connect with it as much as I'd hoped I would. There's so many restrictions on these posts, you should instead just take the time to expand your story. Give more depth about who these people are, why they're there.

I think you've given some great descriptions throughout the story and the dialogue is appropriatly simple. The main character's thoughts are well represented and very clear.
The piece is good, with a few more touch ups it could even better.

Keep up the writing, you've got potential, bra. :)
  





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Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:20 am
mhmmcolleenx0 says...



Okay, I really liked this! So just a few things, I'm not a big grammar freak so I'm not going to do any of that.

Characters: I know what he/she sees, smells, and hears but I need to know more! If you don't want to give the whole thing away at least give us some clue to if it's a boy or girl and maybe a name. I can't feel bad for the charactor unless I know how he/she truly feels. That is why you wrote in first person?

Description: Excellent detail on the places, I don't need to go into detail.

So basically, this has strong potential if you add to this or have any questions please PM me. I want to read more!
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Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:20 am
wordartisan says...



I loved this, it was so empowering. I want to know, just like everyone else, the story to why they are all in jail. There were a couple errors that I am over looking because everyone else already pointed them out. unless you meant for the dialect to be different. The descriptions are so vivid, and real.The whole piece is kind of creepy (I think you meant it to be like that), and the girl at the end is a perfect touch, but maybe if the main character does not answer, in fear, and does not smile, because she does not feel the need to express emotion anymore. That would be cool too. I like the way it is now as well, just a suggestion. This was a really enjoyable read, post some more of it. Oh one more thing, if that is a castle that they are prisoners in, then the ruler might make a more elaborate speech that the guard would read. I don't know. Thanks.
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